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Appeal court defeat means store-music victory for retailers

An appeal court defeat for the company that licences music in shops is a victory for retailers, said the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Appeal court defeat means store-music victory for retailers

An appeal court defeat for the company that licences music in shops is a victory for retailers, said the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

It will save retailers £5 million a year and win them a £20 million refund of excessive charges they have paid over the last five years.

Today (Friday) Phonographic Performance Ltd. (PPL) lost an appeal against a ruling - made last October by the Copyright Tribunal - that licence fee increases it had imposed were excessive.

Shops and other businesses that play recorded music (including from television and in-store or conventional radio stations) have to pay for a licence. PPL collects the copyright fees on behalf of record companies.

In 2005 PPL dramatically increased the licence fee charges. Some outlets saw their costs more than double overnight. For example one clothing retail group's bill rose from £176,000 to £408,000 a year and a chain of tile shops' bill went from £25,000 to £73,000.

On behalf of its members, large and small, the BRC backed a legal battle against the unjustifiable scale of these increases.

In October the Copyright Tribunal ruled the increases were excessive and should be capped at ten per cent. PPL appealed but last Friday  the judgement has gone against them triggering a multi-million pound payback for retailers.

British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said: "We've finally won a victory for fairness. It's a shame PPL wasn't willing to accept the original ruling.

"Being able to play music or have a radio on is important for customers and staff in many shops. Performers and record companies are entitled to be paid but increases on the scale demanded were unjustifiable and out of reach for many retailers.

"It's been a long fight but we now have a level of tariffs that's fair for all parties."

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